Friday, May 28, 2021

The Summer of Slow...and Quiet

How many of you listen to the Happier Podcast with Gretchen Rubin and her sister, Elizabeth Kraft?  I'm a long-time fan.  

Each year around this time, Gretchen and Liz talk about "Designing Your Summer" -- deciding in advance how you want your summer to go, what you might like to do (especially if it involves others in your cohort or family bubble or whatever in these COVID days), that sort of thing.

I've decided I need a Summer of Slow and Quiet.

"What?!", I can hear you saying. "Haven't we been 'slow and quiet' for 15 months now, forced into isolation by a global pandemic?"

Maybe this is true for some...but the 'quiet' of enforced isolation hasn't quieted my brain, or my soul.  Quite the opposite.  I've found myself struggling with grief, anxiety, irritability and downright anger at the circumstances in which the world finds itself -- globally and closer to home.  I've never suffered fools gladly, and there have been many of them out there -- down the street and on the airwaves.  I was becoming someone I didn't like very much.  My public personna -- wherein I tried always to be polite and thoughtful -- was cracking under the strain.

I realized that I'd not internalized that personna deeply enough to ensure it was who I was all the time, not just out there on the street or online.   What inner peace I'd ever developed in my life -- which had taken a body blow in the years I'd been care-giver/bread-winner/parent -- had not been restored to full capacity in the almost-15-years since.  

So...I've decided to do something about that -- and it begins with, as Wendell Berry would say, "The Peace of Wild Things".

I've long had a habit of journalling early, with a cup of coffee; that continues.  Over the last year I've added Morning Prayer with Dean Robert Willis in the Deanery gardens at Canterbury Cathedral -- in all weathers, with his cats and other creatures in the Cathedral's care.  

These things start my day well -- but in these chaotic times, they've been insufficient.  And so in the manner of Benedictine practice, I've been trying to pause at mid-day as well (anywhere between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.).  I'm trying to spend more time outdoors, whether in the yard and garden, or on a good long walk.  I'm re-reading Wisdom Distilled from the Daily by Sr. Joan Chittister, taking my time over it so that the practical wisdom will seep into my pores.

And always there's a bit of Mary Oliver who, like I do, often woke early...

The 'making' -- of course! -- continues.  This month's "May-king" is focused largely outside.

"May Long", aka "May 2-4" aka "Victoria Day" Weekend in Canada is viewed by many as the start of summer (June 21 notwithstanding).  And that's when I began to write this.

Many of us -- weather bedamned! -- put in our gardens: seeds, seedlings, new shrubs, whatever.  Those of us in areas -- particularly prone to snow Every Single Month -- still do this, with plenty of covers at the ready.  I'm no exception.  

On the Friday, I mowed the front and back yards immediately surrounding my house and flower beds.  I added a columbine to one of those beds, and a bee balm to another.  I planted a new peony too. 

Saturday I planted my new geraniums, lobelia, baccopa and impatiens.  Monday?  It got colder and teamed with rain.  I didn't begrudge the rain and the cold didn't bring frost so I'm happy.

"Chinook Sunrise" Rose
All that said, in the last two weeks I've also put in my two new apple trees, three Saskatoon berry bushes, a beautiful hardy rose (gift from my daughter for Mother's Day), and have planted lettuce and green beans (seeds) and zucchini (risky!) from seedlings.  The zukes aren't happy -- despite being covered on a couple of frosty nights -- but everything else is fine.

The "East Lawn" is covered with dandelions this time of year.  I used to resent them, but in recent years celebrate them.  Along with the willows, they feed the bees.  This year they're feeding me too -- and some of my family and friends -- with their blossoms.  Yes, I've been making dandelion jam.  There are many recipes out there.  I prefer the simple combination of the liquid "tea" steeped from the petals, plus liquid pectin, sugar, and a bit of lemon juice.  Golden jam that is almost jelly, with a mild taste that resembles honey.

Removing the petals is a quiet, almoste meditative process.

Steeping the dandelion petals

The finished product.

There's not been much produced in the art department, but one give-away quilt is finished but for the washing and mailing; a second is getting its binding.  I've finished socks for the May Socks from Stash challenge...

Pattern: "Funfetti"
Designer: General Hogbuffer on Ravelry
Yarns: assorted -- wool/nylon fingering

There will be a new pair starting June 1 -- when the challenge will be to use a pattern that's not been "popular" -- that is, that's had fewer than 100 makers.  I've picked my pattern and my yarn from stash...stay tuned!  

That said, the other day I counted my hand-knit socks: I have fourteen pair!  That's quite enough, really, especially as that doesn't include two pair that need repair.  So.  Going forward, the next number of from-stash socks will be given away.

Meanwhile, I've just finished the second sleeve on the "Climbing Vines" pullover -- so this next day or so will find all the pieces lying around the house, blocking out, so I can sew them together, add the neckline -- et voila!  Another long-time UFO (since 2009!!) finished!

In addition, my friends keep having grand-babies!  There's a new baby girl in Toronto, who'll be getting these -- sized for 6 months, when it'll be cold again:

Pattern: "Baby Socks" - River City Yarns, Edmonton

Her grandma has told me that there's a baby boy cousin due in August, so a smaller pair -- again to fit in the fall -- is on the needles and will be finished later today.

As well, in another family, there's another new baby girl  boy, so socks for her him are next up.  (Editted May 30, when I checked the grandma's post, getting ready to cast on! Good thing, eh?! 😉)
And the embroidery continues.  Lizzie Kate's "My To Do List" fits right into my Summer of Slow and Quiet, as she reminds me to..."Just Breathe"...

On that note, Gentle Readers, I'll finish this post.  If you've kept with me thus far, thank you!  I'm linking this to Nina-Marie's Off the Wall Friday.  She's having some challenging times herself these days so I wish her -- and all of you -- peace, comfort and joy, whatever comes.  One day at a time.  

1 comment:

Sylvia said...

I found comfort in your post. Thank you for sharing. I love the idea of Dandelion jam. But living in southwestern Utah we don't have lawn. And my sister if the jam lady. And she doesn't have a lawn either. So no request for your recipe. I did sock madness and am now out. Which gives me a chance to work on my UFO shawls. Peace to you.